By NICK SCHWIEN
It was quite a wait for Mitch Bolton to finally get a chance to compete at RPM Speedway in Hays.
But the long wait -- in the form of a trip from his hometown of Grand Junction, Colo. -- was well worth every hour of driving Thursday night at Fall Nationals VII.
Bolton and his father, Lanney, swept the top two spots in the IMCA sport compact feature on the first day of the national event.
"It's fun," the younger Bolton said after winning Thursday night's feature. "We watched this on XSAN (online) last year and decided we wanted to come out and be a part of it this year."
Bolton was a big part of kicking off the annual event. His victory was the start of five champions being crowned by the end of Saturday night. Tonight, modifieds, stocks, Northern sport mods and hobby stocks take the stage, with hot laps beginning at 5 p.m. and heats beginning at 7. On Saturday, racing begins at 6 p.m., with lofty payouts to the winners of the four remaining classes.
Bolton had to wait for his turn at the front of Thursday night's sport compact feature, just as he had to wait to arrive at RPM.
He started sixth in the scheduled 11-car, 20-lap feature.
At the drop of the green flag, though, Lanney Bolton bolted to the front. He'd lead the first two laps before Ellis' Monte Honas took the lead.
Lanney Bolton battled back, recapturing the front spot on lap six.
"I did a good job to get up there," said Honas, who started eighth and had won 10 straight races at RPM this year. "I was good in (turns) one and two and could run the fast line. But three and four was slicked off. I couldn't get traction, and the car would push up the track. I didn't have the car setup adjusted right for that slickness."
Honas battled both Boltons up front. But Mitch Bolton got by Honas on the high side on lap 10, moving right behind his father.
"(Honas) kept passing me high in one and two," Mitch Bolton said. "I just waited until he went low in one and two, and I went high and drove around him."
Then he set his eyes on his father, passing him on lap 11 for the lead.
"I knew once they got around me I wasn't going to be able to catch them," Honas said. "I just tried to push it a little too hard to try something different because I knew I wasn't going anywhere where I was at."
The younger Bolton led the final laps of the feature to claim his first Fall Nationals title. His father was second, followed by Josh Modde and Honas.
"I didn't know I was pulling away from them," Bolton said about the win. "Once I got into the lead, I just kept the hammer down and went."